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February 17, 2013


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I just finished my last comment on the previous post and then saw this. I think Zizek makes my point for me - how can we possibly understand the experience of "rising expectations" without a notion of the autonomous individual? Even if this ends up being a fiction, we can not have the conditions of rising expectations without a notion of individual entitlement. Democratic politicians continually tell us that if I "work hard and play by the rules" I ought to be able to have a comfortable life (materially) and provide for my family. You may suggest that this is bull shit, but the rhetoric expresses a real feeling expressed by real individuals.

Jodi Dean

Groups experience rising and falling expectations. Consider belief: we know from Zizek on Lacan that belief is belief in the belief of another; same thing with expectations, and even free market people accept this--bets in a market are bets on what others will do. Feelings are shared, traversing any single person.


Certainly "market sentiment" is essential for short term investing. Even the very notion of how the market will react to certain news, or how it reacts when certain expectations are not met. Feelings are shared, and yet we still interact with the market through our individual investments, even if it is only a 401k or 403b. I know the personal anguish of people who retired soon after the crash in 2008, or those who couldn't retire at all. These people certainly experienced the impersonal forces of the market in a very personal way.

But having said that I appreciate that you are occupying these concepts, pushing them to the limit. And clearly the economic collapse has demonstrated our impotence before mammon. I appreciate the provocation.


"People rebel not when things are really bad, but when their expectations are disappointed. The French revolution occurred only once the king and the nobles were losing their hold on power; the 1956 anti-communist revolt in Hungary exploded after Imre Nagy had already been a prime minister for two years, after (relatively) free debates among intellectuals; people rebelled in Egypt in 2011 because there was some economic progress under Mubarak, giving rise to a class of educated young people who participated in the universal digital culture."

Isn't Zizek missing the fact that shorted expectations only cause rebellion when people *also* have an increased sense of agency? The Hungarians, the rising Egyptians, the rising American middle classes of the 50's-70's who spawned the environmentalist and renewed feminist movements, etc. The American working and middle classes moved from the Great Depression, in which people felt little control over their fate, to the postwar boom in which workers and the college educated could count on a decent job and had a greater sense of control, and that this is the fuse that lit the 60's-70's ferment.

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